VERO BEACH — VERO BEACH — After more than a year of offering sneak peeks to a select few sworn to secrecy, Vero Beach’s celebrated amateur fossil hunter James Kennedy has revealed to the world via a History Channel TV show that he has a second etched bone.
Kennedy made international headlines in 2009 with his discovery of a bone from a large Ice Age mammal etched with a drawing of a mastodon or mammoth. When that find stood up to rigorous testing, it was hailed as the oldest work of art ever discovered in the Western Hemisphere.
Now Kennedy claims he has had another etched bone all along, this time of a stick figure spear fisherman and his catch.
The first bone passed that extensive scrutiny and more from scientists in Colorado and at the University of Florida and the Smithsonian Institute,
Kennedy says he contacted Scott Wolter, a Minnesota-based geologist and host of the show “America Unearthed,” sometime last year.
The show, now in its second season, has reached as many as a million viewers per episode.
Wolter declares the show tells the “hidden history that we never learned in school.”
Kennedy would likely agree: entirely self-taught, he is a lifelong fossil hunter without a college degree but with an impressive understanding of the region’s archaeology.
In it, Wolter speaks with Dr. Dennis Stanford, head of the Smithsonian’s Paleoindian program who has lectured here on Vero’s archaeological importance.
Wolter also interviews Dr. Rachel Wentz, an expert in the 6,000-year-old Brevard County site known as Windover Bog.
Kennedy appears in the last segment, and takes Wolter out to a spoil island in Sebastian, where the two instantly discover a set of mastodon teeth. Both swear that though the shot was set, the find actually occurred spontaneously.
Though he knows the etched fisherman bone has not been tested, Wolter declared it looked “absolutely legitimate” when Kennedy with cameras rolling withdrew it from its metal case.
“It’s not fake,” insists Wolter, “They’re saying it’s fake and they’ll try and smear it, but at the end of the day it’s going to be vetted out and it will stand up to scrutiny.”
The original excavation at the Vero Man site rocked the archaeological world.
Prior, there had never been proof of people inhabiting the area earlier than 8,000 years ago. The Ice Age lasted until around 13,000 years ago.
Tests on the first bone Kennedy found certainly pointed to the Ice Age coexistence of man and beast. But beyond a morsel kept by the Smithsonian, further examination appears not to be an option with the bone in private hands.
The notion that Vero Beach may have been an Ice Age artists’ colony was floated by experts when Kennedy made known his discovery of the first bone in 2011.
That bone was exhibited with much fanfare at the Vero Beach Museum of Art.
All the while, Kennedy claims, he has been sitting on another etched bone, hiding it at home even as he demanded the utmost in security for the first bone.
Kennedy says he found the two bones at the same time, in the same place – north of the Vero Man site on privately owned property. He says both were originally stored together in a box labeled with the location.
He had no idea either was etched until he took the box out from under his kitchen sink to clean them, a year or more after he had found them.
“When I saw the etching on the first one, I went back and checked the box for more and I found the second one. But I’ve been told before: if you find four Picassos in your basement, say you only found one.”
Kennedy says the only expert who has seen the bone thus far is Paul Bahn, a British archaeologist who visited Vero in conjunction with the early fund-raising effort for the Vero Man dig.
“He made note just as I did of the many more carved details in the first bone,” Kennedy says.
More Information: The Vero News